— GLASS HALF-FULL: There's some good news, of sorts, for Sony. Its profits for October-December of last year were down 5 percent from the same period in 2005 — which doesn't sound great, but many analysts were predicting a much steeper drop. The decline was almost entirely due to Sony's games division, which lost $443 million, mostly on the PlayStation 3's startup costs. Still, Sony executives think the PS3 will break even in the next fiscal year, which begins in April — and part of the company's strategy may be an early price cut for the new console.
"We may look at the price as part of our strategy to expand the market when the timing is right," Senior Vice President Takao Yuhara told reporters in Tokyo. "Such factors, including price cuts to some extent, are factored in" under the plan to break even in fiscal 2007.
Of course, every console gets less expensive over its lifetime; the surprise is that Sony's thinking about it less than four months after the PS3's launch.
— CRACK A WINDOW: Electronics stores across the country opened at midnight on launch day for Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system — but they didn't attract anything like the crowds that lined up for the PlayStation 3 or the Wii. Most PC gamers are probably waiting to upgrade; more players seem to be concerned that Vista will mess up their games rather than making them look better. Megahits like "World of Warcraft" and "Company of Heroes" seem to have no problems running on Vista, but makers of low-budget and casual games are worried.
Alex St. John, CEO of the online publisher WildTangent, said Vista's parental controls and security changes will make it difficult for users to download casual games and demos from the Internet. Still, we'll all have to make the switch eventually; by fall, we'll be seeing the first games that use Vista's DirectX 10 multimedia format (such as Electronic Arts' "Crysis," Eidos' "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures" and Namco Bandai's "Hellgate: London"). I, for one, welcome our new overlords.
— BOOTLEG PLAY: For a few seasons now, EA Sports has had an exclusive deal with the National Football League, making "Madden NFL" the only gridiron game that features real-life teams and players. The arrangement left EA's main competitor, 2K Sports, out in the cold, and irritated fans who thought "NFL 2K" was the superior franchise.
Now, though, it looks like 2K is ready to strap on its helmet and re-enter the fray. The company announced that Visual Concepts, the developers of "NFL 2K," are working on "All-Pro Football 2K8" for a late-summer release. 2K wasn't ready to divulge what kinds of players will fill out its rosters: Will "All-Pro" feature long-retired legends like Joe Montana? Or will 2K try to duplicate the NFL vibe with teams like the Fort Wayne Horsies and their star quarterback, Layton Fanning? Without the league's current stars, "All-Pro" will have a tough time challenging "Madden" — but it's good to see 2K back in the game.
— MORE `SPORE': A few other recent game announcements have gotten a lot of attention. First, Electronic Arts confirmed that its PC game "Spore," the insanely ambitious evolution simulator from "The Sims" mastermind Will Wright, will also be coming to Nintendo's humble DS portable. Another promising DS title comes from Majesco, which will be publishing "The New York Times Crosswords" for all of you who are sick of sudoku. And Konami will be going Wii-crazy with a couple of new titles, "Dewy's Adventure" (from "Elebits" producer Shingo Mukaitoge) and "Kororinpa: Marble Mania."
— NEW IN STORES: This is a good week for soccer fans, with latest edition of Konami's "Winning Eleven" due out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS. Or you can get back into the national pastime with EA Sports' "MVP 07 NCAA Baseball," for the PS2. Other high-profile releases include "Ar Tonelico," another wacky PS2 role-playing game from NIS America; and Konami's "Lunar Knights" and Nintendo's "Diddy Kong Racing," both for the DS.